Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Swans in the Mississippi River
 A quick post to report on last Saturday's first ice fishing outing on Mille Lacs.  Because Bill had a number of items I ordered for Christmas, a quick trip to Mille Lacs to pick up the stuff and fish the evening bite was in order.  Reports of 8 inch ice were common so I loaded the ATV, gear, and headed north.  One interesting thing that I noticed on the way up was the significant amount of Trumpeter Swans in the Mississippi River between the house and the 101 bridge.   They were scattered along the river for 7 miles in groups up to 30 birds.  These birds make their winter home below the warm water discharge of the power plants near Monticello.  I believe the estimate is over 2500 swans winter there, I know there were at least a couple of hundred along the shallow areas of the open water.  With the cold weekend, I am sure that the river has froze shut forcing the swans back upriver to the warmer water.  I arrived at Lundeens and spent some quality time unwinding first.  Not in a hurry to get on the ice I complimented Bill on his great influence on me.  Lately I have been waiting till the last minute to do things.  Knowing that I was heading north, Friday night was the time to take the ice auger out and get it started.  Last spring saw a new gas tank installed by myself, didn't really think nothing of it.  Well, after pouring gas into the carb for the 5th time, it was obvious there was something wrong.  After an hour I called Bill and asked if he had any new Strikemaster's.  He finally talked me into not giving up and within the hour had figured out how hosed up I had made it.  Freezing cold, I reassembled the gasket, heat shield, gasket, spacer, gasket, carburetor, governor assemble, gas tank, and air filter perfectly and it started right up.  It probably would have been much easier in 70 degree weather under less duress!

26 incher with a little body

Arriving on an inshore hump I set up in 20 feet, working the edge.  With some of the ice still heaving and cracking, it was smart to stay closer to shore.  After drilling a number of holes and setting up my dead stick line, it was outside to hole hop.   At the last Eric Applen Golf Tourney I had purchased a new Showdown for hole hopping,  a nice unit but takes a little bit of time to dial it in right.  Coming back into the shack and setting it in the dead stick hole, I noticed the minnow line was pretty large.  Thinking the gain was too high I began to look at the settings when I noticed the bobber was completely out of sight..........Duh!!!  Setting the hook on this nice 26 inch walleye, not bad for the first fish of the season.  Not unlike a lot of fish caught this year, this one was pretty skinny.  Resetting the line, outside again to hole hop, returning to warm up I put on a Slender Spoon as the sonar's were not marking much fish.  Dropping it down, these take a while to get to the bottom however as is descended a line came up to meet it, wham a 24 inch walleye!  Finally around sundown a third mark appeared and aggressively hit my lure.  Man, another nice fish until it came through the hole..............dang eelpout.  This was the first one I had caught on Mille Lacs in over 5 years so it was good to see.  They have a beautiful brown coloring and although great to eat, I put this one back.  Leaving at 5:30, 3 fish in 3 hours was good enough.  Arriving back at the landing another surprise was waiting, the front tire on the truck was flat, we won't even go into that.

A beautiful eelpout

Today I am heading to Red Lake with my friend Mark Applen.  He has his wheel house parked at a resort and with a little luck we can hit the night bite.  If the fishing is good we will stay there and if not the plan is to head north to Lake of the Woods.  Either way I am looking forward to spending a few days with Mark and hammering some walleyes that are hopefully fatter than the ones I have been catching.  I have a few new lures to try out and it will be a great way to end 2012.  Next week the lakes around home should be ready for some panfish action.  Have a great New Year and here's hoping next weeks report is successful. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Making Ice

Slender Spoon from Custom Jigs and Spin

The cold has finally arrived.  Last year at this time we were struggling for ice as the wind and weather had created a huge ice island on Mille Lacs separated by a few hundred yards of open water completely around the lake making travel to the hot areas impossible.  This year is completely different.  The lake froze a couple of weeks ago and with this weeks temperatures hovering around 0, the lake is definitely making ice.  Hunter's Point resort on the east side of Mille Lacs reports they have a road staked to both Sliver and Boot flats, 6 miles out from the resort.  With a good 7 - 9" of ice, I have my Polaris Razor all set to go, my new Thermal X is ready, the electronics are all charged up, it's just a matter of picking the right day this weekend.  The Razor is my side by side ATV with a roof, windshield, and a special mounting for my Lowrance HDS7 from the boat.  With an accurate Lakemaster chip, I use it as a large screen GPS where as it very accurately displays the bottom contours in 1 foot increments.  It makes searching for that spot on the spot much easier.  Everything is marketing these days and ice fishing has hit a crescendo to say the least.  In this world it's very popular to promote products through association as the ice fishing world has Team Ice.  A group of companies and guys promoting ice fishing, a great example is the Slender Spoon.  Early ice fishing video's have featured this lure as the killer bait for this year's hard water season.  Being promoted via a number of web forums, the Minneapolis area is all but sold out of these lures, a testament to the effectiveness of the media.  They are light spoon that exhibits a slow "tantalizing" drop that makes them irresistible to walleyes and perch.  I haven't bit on the hype yet as my winter tackle box is void of these, probably will have to pick up a couple, just in case! 

Christmas in China
I am finally settling back into a normal routine after my trip to China.  For some reason it's taken a long time to readjust to being back home, maybe it's simply that fact that we are in the shortest daylight time of the year.  Early Sunday morning was spent in the Mercy Hospital emergency room as I must have gotten into something that resulted in a severe allergic reaction, something I haven't experienced in over 30 years. I still think my trip made me more vulnerable.  Christmas is upon us and it seems as though it was just yesterday.  We will head back to Eleva and see my mom as well,  spend time with the relatives.  My friend Mark Applen is fishing Red Lake right now and is going to leave his wheel house at the resort.  Red Lake is about 5 hours north of Minneapolis, on the way to Lake of the Woods (LOTW).  Our plan is the Thursday after Christmas head back up and either fish Red or continue on to Baudette.  We made a few phone calls and everyplace is booked for next week so we decided to stay in his wheel house, something I have done in the past.  I like staying out on the ice however because the lakes are stained, they pretty well shut down after sundown.  Mark has Direct TV in the ice house, a nice Honda generator, we will have all the comforts of home!  The time between Christmas and New Years was the time my friend Tom Emmons, Tom McAtee, and I would rent a house on Mille Lacs.  With Tom gone, it's probably good to start a new tradition as Mark and I had a blast fishing LOTW last year and the 50 inch sturgeon he caught.  Because Christmas is on Tuesday and I leave on Thursday, next weeks post could be late, delayed because of fishing, pretty good excuse if you ask me!

I will leave you with a picture from the Hotel we stayed at in China.  Although not a terribly religious nation, China fully embraces the spirit of the holiday's, at least from the commercial point of it.  Snowmen and presents, stocking and tinsel, it's all pretty interesting from a Christian perspective.  I think that it proof that we are more the same than different, any excuse to have a celebration is just fine with me!  Merry Christmas and be safe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jet Lag

The restaurant owner and I wishing everyone a wonderful holiday!

After a grueling 24 hour flight starting in Hong Kong, with a stop at Tokyo and Seattle, I finally got home after being up over 30 hours.  Although I claim not to be able to sleep on the plane, I am sure there were a few doze off periods that got me through the whole ordeal.  Coming back takes 4 hours less than going as the airlines take full advantage of the trade winds that blow from west to east.  I noticed once we left Tokyo  to Seattle our ground speed increased to around 680 mph, which is about 150 mph faster than from Seattle to Tokyo.  Never the less it seems like forever.  You do get 2 square meals on that particular leg of the trip as well as free beer if you want.  The problem with beer is that sitting in the window seat, the guy next to you falls asleep, its a long hold if he doesn't wake up...........if you know what I mean.  Saturday I was fortunate enough to get a Taiwanese portal for last weeks post and after we left work it was off to our favorite restaurant in Qingxi (shing she) to pig out on Tsing Tao and delicious Taiwanese food.  The restaurant is actually off the main streets, about 2 blocks back in a darkened portion of town.  I have been there many times and is probably my favorite "local" place to dine in China as the food is simply outstanding.   The owner of the restaurant recognized me and brought over a few bottles of beer to celebrate.  He did not speak English however was pleased when I toasted him with the word Gambay!  In Chinese this means bottom up, a challenge he did not take lightly.  I am pretty sure he was half in the bag when he joined us and significantly in the bag when he left.  Like I've always said in China, don't screw with a Cheesehead when it comes to beer!  The food was everything I expected and I left with a belly full of food, beer, and great memories.

Hong Kong Island and Kowloon from Victoria Peak

Sunday afternoon found us in Hong Kong exploring the sites.  Our guide was LT Koo, a gentlemen we know from a business relationship we have entered with.  Now LT lives in Hong Kong and knows all of the touristy spots.  We stayed on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong's business district with the exact location known as Tsim Sha Tsui (pronounced Shim Shy She), at the edge of the harbor.  Hong Kong Island was on the other side and the best way to get there is by the Star Ferry Company LTD.  The ferries run every 15 minutes and take about 15 minutes, so there is one heading each way, all day long.  Interesting as it's a great way to travel, is the most direct route to the other side, and the cost is under $1.00USD.  From the ferry we hopped on a single car/double decker train that followed the main streets then onto an open topped tourist bus which took us within walking distance of the tram which ran to the top of Victoria Peak.  Our initial thoughts were to go to the peak during the day but LT stated it would be much nicer at night.  He was right!  I took this picture overlooking Hong Kong proper from the beautiful vantage point 1400 feet above the city.  The area in the forefront is the main area of Hong Kong Island.  The area across the water is Kowloon with the tip being Tsim Sha Tsui.  It always seems hazy in this part of the world and that night was no exception yet the view was stunning as pictures dimply do not do it justice.  Like everything in Hong Kong, there was a shopping center at the top of the peak, complete with high end stores and restaurants.  I was surprised how many people there were yet in reality everyplace is crowded in Hong Kong.  It certainly is a world city.

View from the Star Ferry Harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui
 So returning home meant back to reality.  While I was gone a number of things arrived, specifically my new pulley for the alternator on my Ferguson tractor.  The tachometer is driven from a cable that came from the generator.  I did convert it to 12 volts and found an alternator with a cable drive adaptor.  After hooking it up and using my neighbor Tim's dwell meter I determined the tach was running 25% higher than the true engine RPM.  The alternator has a 3.2 inch diameter pulley and I needed to increase it 25%, to a 4 inch pulley.  I found one on the Internet and when I returned it was ready to go.  It is spot on right now as I am a stickler for certain details and that on would have bothered me till I was dead!  We had 14 inches of snow while I was gone setting me up for the last few days of giving my new in 2011, 47 inch snow blower for the John Deere its first real workout in over a year.   In addition, I put the tire chains on the Fergie and using the 7 foot blade plowed my back area where the trailers are parked.  It brought me back 40 years ago when I used to use the same tractor to clear the snow from my grandparents house.  Funny thing is that it simply doesn't feel like it was that long ago.   I will leave you with a picture that is opposite the previous one, looking over to Hong Kong Island.  If you look closely you can see the correlation of the two views and get some idea of the scope of Hong Kong.  I am still amazed at the amount of lights and holiday decor going on, maybe a simple reminder of how small the world really is. 

The fishing itch is pretty strong and this snow isn't helping things.  My friend Keith claims he is starting to catch fish north of Brainerd, MN.  Maybe I can sneak out on Sunday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ni Hao from China

Pink Mary Kay Chevrolet in Foshan
Ni Hao (pronounced Knee How) is the standard greeting stated when you meet someone in China.  The literal translation is "you good" and if you say Ni Hao Ma (Knee How Ma) it means "How are you?" a response of He Hao or Very good is appropriate.  I am writing this from one of my Taiwanese suppliers office through his Taiwan portal as "Fishin With Dave" is banned in China.  That's right, my corrupt and subversive articles may cause the next cultural revolution in this country of over 1.4 billion people.  Therefore I am limited in time and will post just a few thoughts and pictures.  My first area to visit is on the west side of the Pearl River Delta, just on the other side of Hong Kong.  In the town of Foshan (Fo = Budda, shan = mountain) we stopped to have a flat tire fixed at a combination repair/car wash.  Waiting for tire, they pulled out a pink Chevy Impala with a Mary Kay license plate holder.  I found it amusing as the request from our 2 employees in China on what they wanted from the United States and both gave me a list of cosmetics for their wives.  Clinique and Fresh brands, apparently in China the duties are close to 50%.  I brought over $500 worth in the form of about 10 small bottles of eye cleanser, foundation, and other stuff that is priced higher than gold.  At least Samuel and Dragon agree that in China they have the same saying as in the US, a happy wife is a happy husband!  Here's a hint boy's.....Mary Kay is much cheaper and it certainly looks like you can buy it somewhere in China.

My adorable friend in Qingxi
 It has been 2 years since my last visit and a favorite place to go is the tea shop in Qingxi (shing she) City, near our hotel.  The owner has been a subject of my blog a couple of years ago and when we walked in, he immediately shook my hand and said DaWay, my name in Chinese.  Obviously he has few Americans come in and the welcome mat came out.  We spent at least an hour drinking various types of tea, mixing in stories, pictures, and allowing his daughters to practice their English.  It is an interesting situation as this gentlemen has 2 daughters and a son, the last born.  Boy's are coveted and are desired to carry on the family name so having 2 daughters meant one more try.  Having the inside scoop on why, I am told that he has paid penalties and knows the government officials well enough to do work around the official 1 child policy.  She's simply adorable and was anxious to pose for a picture.  Her older sister had the honor during my last visit but she's getting too big.  Things have changed a lot in China during the last few years as the people become more affluent.  As you travel you see the run down areas and right next to them are modern, well kept neighborhoods that seem a world away from a block away.  My first trip to China was in May of 2001, 12 1/2 years ago.  Back then one thing I noticed were all of the construction cranes and buildings going up.  Today I see the same thing, just as many cranes and buildings being built today.  The people of China are not much different than we are, just a half a world away.  They are certain more like us than different.

So, with my Taiwanese portal closing soon I need to finish!  Yesterday I did buy some special bobbers at the tackle shop for display in my office and a couple of holding nets for my friend Bill's bait shop.  The food is simply fabulous and I am just starting to get used to the time, providing my friends stop calling me at 3:30 in the morning.   The weather back home looks to turn cold after Saturday, maybe we'll have fishable ice by next weekend.  I sure could use a break!

Friday, November 30, 2012

New Orleans, a Great Place to Visit!

Pat O'Brien's legendary Hurricane Cocktail
New Orleans is the first leg of my 3 week journey which includes 50 hours of  being stuck in an airplane, nothing to brag about for sure.  I am writing this from the town that Hurricane Katrina devastated in 2005, more than 7 years ago already.  To be honest, I haven't seen much of the effect however the locals say that near the outskirts of the city it's still pretty bad.  For me, I am staying in the luxurious Loews Downtown Hotel, 2 blocks off the water front in downtown New Orleans.  This is an interesting town for sure and at least from my advantage, continues to be a vibrant city worth visiting.  One of the things on my bucket list is to have a genuine Hurricane Cocktail from the famous Pat O'Brien's located in the Historic French Quarter.  A few of my colleagues and I walked from our hotel to the iconic bar, a good mile and a half, sat down and watched the New Orleans Saints/Atlanta Hawks game and had what is best expressed as "everything I imagined it to be!".   This thing is huge and includes 4 shots of quality gold rum, Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Cocktail Mix, crushed ice, and garnished with an orange slice and cherry.  I dare to say it's almost 16 ounces with the crushed ice causing a coat of frost to form on the outside of the glass.  They have an interesting concept, you get charged an extra $3.00 for your drink and if you want it back you have to turn in the glass.  I decided to keep mine and on the way out a guy gives you a cardboard container, their famous beads, and a carrying bag to take the glass with you.  Seeing's how I bought nothing, that glass was going to be mine.  I was able to get it back to the hotel in one piece.  Although I need another glass in my collection of special places I have been like I need a hole in my head, it was something that could not be resisted!

New Orleans water front
The previous night we took a genuine riverboat jazz cruise, complete with a Cajun buffet on a 210 foot paddle wheeler called the Creole Queen.  After sitting down and eating dinner the boat fired up the paddle wheels and we headed down river for an hour before turning around and returning to port.  The Mississippi is certainly different at it's mouth than  it is in Minneapolis.  Deep and muddy, it's reported that the river is over 200 feet deep as it meanders through downtown New Orleans.  You can get an idea of it size by the amount of large ocean going freighters making there way up and down the river.  With the river nearing record lows, there are places near home that you can almost walk across.  I have to admit it was a beautiful site as we came into the dock on the final leg of our cruise.  We leave tomorrow but not before I can get the chance to down some New Orleans fresh oysters and maybe have some gumbo.  It's an exciting place and definitely worth your visit some time.
Coming home on Friday, my wife and I will head to Prairie Du Chen to attend the funeral of my sister-in-law's mother, Violet Heiar.  Her husband Wes was the guy I bought the tractor from, having just seen her a few weeks ago, its a sad day.  Inevitable, it's simply a sign that we are not getting any younger.  I'll be scrambling to get down and back as Sunday will see me on a plane to Hong Kong.  I hope I can get some sleep!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

The Ferguson's home!
It's that time of year again where we give thanks for everything that we are thankful for.  For me it's a pretty easy exercise as I wake up thankful that I woke up and it's simply downhill from there!  The list could go on from family and friends however those that know me understand their importance so there is no need to restate the obvious.  The reality is that I have been waiting to get my tractor home and check out all the fine work that Dick has done in the last 6 weeks.  Knowing there is little time to organize my plow, disc, and brush hawg, the timing was perfect.   Picking her up last Friday night, Saturday was the day to try everything out.  Dick did a great job with the repair as everything works great.  Wanting to move my plow and disc to the back of my property for the winter I hooked up the 2 bottom Moldboard plow and decided to try it out.  Having never plowed before it was pretty interesting as I successfully turned over about 2000 square feet of sandy soil and it was pretty cool.  After putting the plow away next was the disc.  Unfortunately I soon discovered that one of the flanges on the rear right spool bearing had broken off and it didn't work very well.  Unable to locate one on the Internet I will have our machinist we use at work to come up with a solution.  Next was the brush hawg with the intent on chopping the remaining sweet corn stalks in the garden.  After backing it into position I shifted the PTO control to start the shaft turning and a huge bang followed by a large metal piece flying out the side.  Here I had left a huge 1 1/2 inch box wrench on one of the nuts and it flew off not before the blades cut the 12 point box end in half.  That's nothing to sneeze at as it simply chewed up this large wrench.  It did do a great job on the stalks before she was put to rest under a new addition to my pole shed, especially made for it.  Next I attached the blade and spent some time repairing my pole shed driveway for the winter.  Having ordered a new Tractormeter (tachometer) and cable which connects the back of the special alternator to the tractormeter, that was hook up and although it's measures alittle faster RPM then the engine is really running, I finally have all the gauges working.  I did post a picture on a Ferguson forum and one of the guys commented that looking at the droop on the front bumper, the pivot pin and bushing was shot.........really?  After checking it out, he was right and I have another new project for the winter. As you can read, its a blast owning Gramps old tractor and Dick assured me it had plenty of power and I could look forward to years of enjoyment.  
Paul's nice 8 pointer

So this weekend was the Wisconsin deer opener.   People are crazy about deer hunting in Minnesota yet it doesn't hold a candle to back home where everyone participates.  So I will start out with my good friend, Paul Wenaas.  As stated in previous posts, I worked for Paul's dad Victor while growing up in Eleva.  When Paul became old enough to work, he and I switched off on weekends giving each other a break from changing tires and oil. Paul and a number of guys own some prime hunting land north of Strum, WI and is next to another friend, Gary Hageness.  Paul bagged this nice 8 point buck within 15 minutes of the first morning.  They took 4 nice bucks of the property within the first hour.  Back home Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties consistently rate in the top areas of the country for trophy whitetail deer.  It nice to see Paul get this buck, I am sure that it a good distraction to the sad events of the last couple of weeks for him and his family.  The next picture is an absolute whopper!  Don and Dwight Jordan are brothers who live in Hudson WI, both help farm land near Ridgeland WI, south of Barron.  I met Dwight years ago through my cousin Greg, we went deer hunting in

Don Jordan's trophy
Minnesota together.  As well, his brother Don is friends with my brother-in-law Walt, who also live in Hudson.   Dwight helped me get hooked up with Dick, my tractor guy, as we have been talking lately including the story of the big buck on their farm.  Saying it was one of the biggest racks he has seen, on Saturday morning his brother Don dropped him in it's tracks.  Having 13 points the inside spread measured 24.75 inches, it looks dang near like a mule deer.  Dwight stated that they took it into the processor who quickly skinned and caped the deer telling them he wasn't interested in being responsible for the safety of the the huge trophy.  It went to the taxidermist immediately.  I am anxious to see what this deer will score once it's fully dry.  Unfortunately these trophies seem distant in my world of deer hunting yet maybe some day the moon and stars will be aligned.  Hope can be described as  the act of "looking forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence", I'll keep my fingers crossed.

It's 62 degrees out today, not very conducive for making ice.  Reports show a major cool down for next week, just in time for the Ice Fishing Show at the Excel Center in St. Paul starting November 30.  I did get my Clam put together and it's pretty sweet yet there are nuances that still drive me crazy.  I head for New Orleans on the 27th for a 3 day conference with The Transformer Association where I serve as it's president.  We tried to get a Saturday fishing trip out of Venice, Louisiana however my schedule does not allow for any free time.  On Sunday, December 2 I fly to Hong Kong with meetings in Guangdong Province.  My postings will be tight as it could be difficult to find the time, maybe on the airplane as the flight over is 25 hours and the flight back is 20 hours.  That's a long time in a plane!  Sitting in my tree stand for 2 days was great practice.  Don't eat too much turkey now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Deer Hunting's Done, Let The Temperature Fall!

One of the stands at the edge of the swamp

Often the second weekend of deer hunting can have it's advantages.  There are fewer hunters in the woods, the deer have had a few days to settle back into their patterns, and for me the pressure is off.   More than 60% of the deer harvested are done during the first weekend of hunting so the expectations are not as high for the last 2 days of deer camp.  I hunt about 80 miles north of my home and the weather forecast was originally stated as highs in the upper 50's for Saturday with a cold front coming through on Sunday.  Not wanting to hunt in the rain I decided to pick up Jack's son Ben, drive up to his cabin and hunt Saturday, tear down my stand that evening and drive home.  It was very dark when we got up at 5:00 to get ready to go, a peek outside and the wind was howling from the east, not a good sign.  I always attribute an east wind to rain.  No sooner than I closed the door and the sky let loose.  The rain finally stopped a half hour later yet it stayed a damp mist for the rest of the day.  Although my hunting clothes are Gore Tex, everything was hat, gun, scope, stand, it was a mess.  The upper 50's never materialized and by noon we hit a paltry 37 degrees.  It wasn't that bad however just 80 miles away at home the sky was blue and the temperature was 67 degrees.  We were parked right on the front end of the cold front and about had enough! Just about the time I decided to get off the stand and go in a movement caught my eye.  There had been quite a few shots fired and after seeing a deer driving in, they were obviously moving.  Sure enough a big doe had stepped into my view.  My disadvantage was in the form of trying to get too high in the tree, the tamaracks got a little thick, never the less after cleaning enough moisture off the scope lens I had her in sight.  Just a couple of steps more, I need a better shot and Bang, as I watched a guy in the center stand took a 150 yard poke at her.  She bucked like a bronco, ran 25 yards, I was sure he hit her good.  No dice, she started walking around like nothing happened.  With the opportunity to get another shot I patiently waited until the right moment, squeezed the trigger, and the 2 inch branch 6 feet from my barrel exploded in front of me.............damn!!!  By that time the guy who took the first shot was checking out his success, I got down and told him the story as we walked around looking for any sign.  Wet, frustrated, and the afternoon looked no better I tore down the stand, packed it on my ATV and headed back.  Well, at least I can say that I had my chance which in the end is all I am ever looking for.  I did get plenty of deer meat from my neighbors and friends, as well there is still some left in the freezer.  For sure it was a successful season, not necessarily bountiful but successful.
Light colored inside will be nice!

It is getting colder and ice fishing is just around the corner.  In my ever quest to horse trade and upgrade I dropped off my older Clam Thermal X2 at Bill's for a new 2013 Clam Thermal X2 portable ice shelter.  Weighing in at 135 pounds it's not that portable yet really offers the comforts for fishing those cold days on the lake.  The newer house has a number of features that are really nice.  First is the new pole system.  Nothing wrong with the older system however this on will be much easier to set up and tear down.  The sled/tub that is the base for the house is now double molded and the inside is a very light gray color making it much easier to see things inside the shelter.  I also like the hyfax runner system the new sled has, individual nylon runners that will really protect my investment.  Of course nothing seems to go together as easy as it should as the shelter come completely unassembled.  The first thing is to install the runners, 6 - 50 inch, undrilled pieces with 30 #10 x 1.00 inch screws, washers, and lock-nuts.  After aligning the runners and drilling the holes it was time to attach them to the sled.  I drilled the first hole through the bottom and screwed the supplied hardware together to get a feel for it.  Immediately it was evident that 1 inch screws would stick up through the floor too far, at least in my estimation, causing things to catch every time you wanted to move something.  Deciding to take matters in my own hands I located enough 10-32 x 3/4" truss head screws to make the installation more proper.  Arriving on Tuesday, later that night I tried the first screw.  Immediately the lock-nut bound up and dang near twisted off.  Closer examination found that the nuts were 10-24, something I never even considered.  I have since picked up some 10-32 nuts and am ready to continue.   The real problem is that after a quick assessment the assembly time is going to be around 4 - 5 hours.  Nuts, bolts, brackets, tubes, plastic parts, runners, thermal shell, uffda.  Thank god it will be a few weeks before we get real ice!  This weekend is the first of 2 ice fishing shows in the area and I am anxious to see the new equipment, especially the new reels that I have been talking about for years.  That will be a story for next week.

My tractor mechanic, Dick called and said the Ferguson is finally finished.  The oil leaks are fixed, the radiator has been rebuilt, a rebuilt oil pump has stabilized the oil pressure, new fluids in the motor, transmission, and hydraulic system.  She'll have a new alternator complete with a tach drive in the back to drive the original tachometer (It has been converted from 6 volt generator to 12 volt alternator) with a cable. Just in time to level my pole barn driveway and put away the implements for the year as I don't think I'll have a need for the disc harrow and plow for a while.  With the potatoes dug, the bulbs put away, there's still a lot of work to put everything away for the winter.  It seems like the time continues to fly faster and faster!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Still Waiting

Most of our deer hunting group

Minnesota's Deer Hunting opener started out with a bang (sorry for the lame pun) for our ragtag hunting group.  Sam shot the first buck, followed by a smaller buck, a nice doe that Brett nailed on Saturday while Brennen shot 2 nice does on Sunday to give us a total of 5 deer for the first weekend.  Sam is in the front row on the left and Brennen is the guy just to his right, in the brown shirt, both younger hunters and it's always great to see them successful.  Of course the hardest thing is to get them to actually gut the deer, something they just expect the "elders" to take care of.  Well, not in this group!  You shoot it, you clean it.  These are good lessons in life and it was a blast having them in our deer camp.   One thing that is fun with the kids is their reaction to my traditional Steak ala Kienitz, which I make on Friday night.  Their thoughts about eating a tender steak covered with Tabasco Sauce, Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and Pace Hot Salsa was less than enthusiastic.  Once grilled to a tender state of medium rare, one taste changed their minds.  As always, our Friday night steak feast was great success.  Along with our group we have a number if guys that stop by to share in the excitement of the upcoming hunt.

Hanging meat!

Having a full schedule at work meant coming home on Sunday night.  My plans for Monday was to stop by my neighbor Pete's and get his take on the local mayor and city council races for the election on Tuesday.  Stopping at his shed and opening the door, he had a nice buck already skinned and with his brother Tim were starting to butcher it.  Never one to back off from a good session of cutting up deer, I volunteered to come back with my cutting boards, knives, and vacuum packer and help finish the job.  I do enjoy cutting deer and was rewarded by a few packages of tender steaks.   Within 2 hours we had it cut up, steaked out, vacuum packed, including 30 pounds of grind meat.  I am sure that they appreciated the help and I was glad to oblige.  I also met with my friend Mark Applen who was hunting 30 miles east of me and they had 5 deer for 8.  They have a good system, Sunday afternoon is slated for a big butchering party, they skin, butcher, and grind everything before splitting it up amongst the party.  Mark gave me about 5 pounds of grind meat and I will probably make some deer sticks out of my gift. 

I am heading back up this weekend to hunt, it's suppose to be 55 on Saturday before the bottom is to fall out of the temperature with snow and below freezing temperatures.   I get the pleasure of picking up Jack's son Ben Taylor and having him ride up with me.  He's 8 years old and had to make a decision, hunt with dad this weekend or go to a friends birthday party on Saturday.  He wants to be with the big boys, something that we certainly can accommodate!  Ice fishing can't be far away as I'm hoping that this year will not be a repeat of last year's crazy weather.  Dick, the guy who is fixing my tractor, called and confirmed that all of the parts finally came in and it should be close to finishing it up.  It's taken a while but I'm sure it will be well worth the wait.  Things just seem like they are traveling a million miles an hour!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Deer Hunting Time

Left X = new spot, Right X = old spot
Saturday marks the beginning of the Minnesota Whitetail Deer hunting season.  It's always a struggle when you do not belong to an organized group as the guys I hunted with have long since scattered with the exception of my good friend Jack Taylor.  He and I have persevered for the last 10 years when we finally found a home on Rich Allen's 160 acres, south of Jack's cabin on Platte Lake, MN.  Platte Lake is about 10 miles west of Lake Mille Lacs and with his cabin, it offers a great place to base our hunting from.   Our good friend Rich died a couple of years ago leaving our hunting paradise in jeopardy.   We last hunted his place in 2010, I did shoot a nice tender yearling buck, yet 2011 brought uncertainty as we found another area that had promise.  Although Rich's land did not sell, in honor of our good friend I did host our deer hunting steak feed at Rich's house.  Our conflict on where to hunt didn't help anything as last year's hunt was less than successful but at least we got out.  Well this year Rich's land is still available and his nephew Brett has insisted we come back.  With the dry summer to our surprise the swamp is quite manageable, why not!  Brett had invited a few others so this year I decided to move west a bit as Brett has the area east of me covered pretty well.  As the picture shows, my previous stand was in an island of large Poplar trees surrounded by swamp, the X on the right.   There is a nice trail that runs through the small strip of swamp grass and into a grove of large tamarack trees.  Deciding that my old stand is somewhat cutoff I moved it west into the tamaracks where several trails intersect.  It puts me at least 300 yards away from anyone, well hidden, maybe that giant buck will finally walk by.  Having never shot any buck over 6 points and 12 inches, I would like to get a nice one before I leave this world, this could be the year.  Our steak feed will continue in Rich's memory and with a little luck I will have a great report for you next week.

Matt's Colorado 5 x 6 bull elk
People continue to send in their hunting pictures or should I say "trophies" to me, most worthy of the associated bragging rights!  Today I am in Colorado visiting customers while traveling with one of my coworkers, Brett Jelkin.  Brett is a great hunter yet after 17 years of living near Ft. Collins, he has yet to figure out where to bag a trophy elk.  It can take a lifetime of learning along with just the right conditions to get that 6 x 6 everyone is looking for.  Of course you can do what my friend Big Dave Pedersen did, pay someone a good chunk of money, yet that seems so wrong when you live right here in elk country.  Driving up from Pueblo this afternoon one of our associates, Matt e-mailed us a picture of his 5 x 6 elk he had shot earlier this month.   Hunting in the southwestern area of Colorado known for their big elk Matt scored big with a nice bull.   I haven't got the full story on the hunt however I am looking forward to hearing the details for sure.  When did you shoot it, did you call it in, how far back were you, are you having the head mounted, is it your first big bull?  I'd love to put one of these on my bucket list, maybe sooner than later for sure.  Whatever the story it's a great picture and maybe I can hustle some meat out of him!

HDS10 Gen 2
For me this is transition time.  We actually had pretty good weather up to a week ago but as things go it has turned much cooler.  It seems like it only takes a week to go from 60 degree days to 40 degree days.  With night time temperatures in the mid 20's the small swamps and ponds often have a skim of ice on them in the morning.  Safe ice cannot be too far behind as the forecast shows no significant warm up in the next couple of weeks.  It was still nice enough to get the oil and lower unit grease changed in my 115 Suzuki this week.  I was very surprised how clean both oil and lower unit gear lube looked.   In my lower unit I have started using Amsoil 100% synthetic Marine Gear Lube and after 3 years it still looked like new yet it was time to replace.  At the same time I traded my 2 year old Lowrance HDS10 for a slightly used HDS10 Gen 2 unit.  Lowrance's new technology using faster microprocessor is supposed to make it significantly faster, something I have already concurred, what a difference and I can't wait to try it out in the water.  Along with changing oil, I trapped a couple of pocket gophers trying to make my yard their winter hibernation home.  My neighbor Otto has a really smart one as it's alluded my traps for almost a week know.  I still think he's coaching these little pests! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making Sense

2012 Mille Lacs fall census results
 Last weeks post lamented the fact that my recent outing on Mille Lacs produced not so much as a single fish, not even a rock bass.  While there has been spotty reports of guys doing fairly well on the north side of the lake, I haven't spent the time to figure out what the exact pattern the fish are responding to.  For the most part, it isn't that necessary.  Over the years I've figured out the fall trolling bite, where the fish have traditionally been, as well as adapting to some of the changes that Mille Lacs has thrown out there.  It also involves new techniques like lead core trolling, looking in areas that may have been hot 15 years ago but is no longer the go to spot, trying new baits including those that you might have forgotten.   I am not a guy that measures success by the number of fish caught rather whether or not I figured out where the fish were, what they were biting on, and did I have a good time.  It has not been that unusual for me to drive up for the evening bite, spend 5 hours on some key areas, catch a few fish, and head home.  Honestly, it's not that hard in October.  On Monday the Minnesota DNR released their report on the fall netting census they do every year to assess the health of the walleye population on Mille Lacs and the news certainly gave an excuse for my lack luster performance last week.  As you can see by the graph, test nets set out in September were the lowest catch rates in 40 years.  Generally the black line represents more inshore, shallower locations and the red line represents nets set out into the deeper waters.  Each year they use this survey information to determine the "safe harvest" levels for the following year.  This year it was 500,000 pounds of walleyes with the estimate of 400,000 pounds taken by the Native Americans (80,000), sportsman (160,000), and release mortality (160,000).  One of the problems identified is that the spring netting targets too many male fish disrupting the normal spawning success.  I am not that smart and I try to remain politically neutral with my blog but if you see me and offer to buy a beer, you will certainly get an ear full!  Either way we are certainly in for some changes at Mille Lacs for the 2013 fishing season.

Two beautiful river walleyes
 Luckily there are guys out hammering the walleyes.  One of them is my friend Pete Mlinar, master guide on the upper Mississippi River.  Guiding under River Run Guide Service, Pete is by trade an accomplished electrician.  After the 2008/2009 economic downturn Pete packed up his truck, hooked up the boat and drove to Alaska seeking  work on the North Slope.  After spending 18 months working the oil fields, he's finally back and I have to admit, in fine form.  Pete is a master at fishing the river with redtails and chubs, the bigger the better.  I have fished smallies with him many times and I have to admit, we've done well.  Fall is his favorite time as he's a true river rat, fishing the Mississippi River from Brainerd to the Coon Rapids Dam.  Pete runs a River Pro Jet boat and can hit 45 mph in 3 inches of water.  With the river really low, he's probably the only guy that can get to these walleyes.  I can't tell you where he got these but I can assure you that anywhere on the river is probably good right now.  Maybe there's still time to get my jon boat out and hit a few of the deeper holes behind the house.  These walleyes are schooling up for the long winter, and with the water level at near record lows, it wouldn't be too hard to find a few that are hungry.  Along with this picture, he also sent me one of a nice 19 inch smallie.  All these fish are really fat and sassy.

So last weekend was occupied with taking wedding pictures for my friend, Mark Applen's daughter Jackie.  It was a frantic weekend as we first drove to New York Mills for the funeral of my friend, Lory Brasel's mother.  Back home by 5:00, at 6:00 we were at the Daytona Golf Course to take pictures of the wedding rehearsal.  Saturday was the big day as my wife and I snapped over 1500 pictures of the big event.  Sunday morning we were invited to a brunch in Rogers, MN to unwind from the previous days events.  Later on Sunday, and with the weather being perfect I loaded up my motorcycle with a new alternator for my tractor and delivered it to River Falls then returning before dark.  It was a nice day to ride, probably the last one of the year.  This weekend is deer hunting prep time as my friend Jack Taylor and I will set up our stands for the Deer Opener on November 3rd.  The year is flying by for sure!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trolling Empty Waters

Guido's first trip to Mille Lacs

With the end of October quickly approaching one has to take advantage of the good days left.  Tuesday was one of those days, 70 degrees, light winds, and a new moon.  Now, full moon fishing in the fall is all the rage on Mille Lacs however few if any pay attention to the new moon.  Both periods offer some mystical effect on fishing and if you have ever been to Alaska it would soon be obvious that the entire fishing schedules run around these moon cycles or tides.  It's important to understand the effect the moon has on our waters as it's gravitational pull, combined with the sun, regulates how much change is happening.  The moon gravity actually pulls the earth's waters towards it, causing it to bulge as the moon passes by.  As well,  our own Earth's rotation causes a secondary bulge at the opposite side of the world.   This causes the water to cycle high and low about twice a day (actually 12.42 hours between).   As well, the sun has the same effect however it's not as strong of influence, yet adds to the process.  So a full moon is the time when the sun is directly opposite the moon and is evident when the sun sets in the west the bright full moon is rising in the east.  In Alaska we know that the salmon run stronger on the highest high tides to conserve energy as they make their way up the rivers.  Here in Minnesota the effect on the water at high tide is minimal as even in a large lake such as Lake Superior, the change is only around 1 3/4 inch at the highest.  That doesn't preclude the theory that fish are affected and are more aggressive during this time.  Where the new moon fits is explained by the  fact that the sun and moon are lined up, therefore both having an additive effect on the water change, which in it's monthly cycle, causes the greatest effect on this change each month.  If you look at the left sidebar you will see 2 gadgets, one of the current moon phase and another that displays today's peak fishing times.  They are all intertwined by the changes which are caused by these cycles.  One factor that helps in a full moon is the additional light available after sunset, the walleyes are very sensitive to this, which gives them an advantage, yet in my opinion the gravitational pull has the greater effect.  Therefore the new moon, where the sun and moon are lined up to create the greatest effect should be pretty good fishing, right?

Another beautiful sunset from 3 Mile Reef

Well apparently not on Tuesday.  We have a gentlemen at work, Guido Viquez, who works as a manufacturing engineer.  From Costa Rica, he lives in Minnesota (Lord knows why!) with his family, was an aircraft mechanic in his prior life, and loves to fish.  He has been pushing me to take him fishing and it seemed like a great opportunity to take the afternoon off and head north.  In the past 3 Mile Reef has been my never fail, go to spot for years.  Located out in the main lake, surrounded by 30 feet of water, it is the ideal spot for late season walleyes, or at least it used to be.  Regardless of the fact that the last 5 years has not been very good on 3 Mile, it's always worth one attempt as last year my neighbor Tom and I had a very successful evening limiting out with 8 keeper walleyes.  Things have changed for sure as the water was crystal clear, enough to see invasion of the zebra mussels first hand.  I knew that they had taken over the reef however because of the water conditions, I had not been able to view the damage until now.  Wow, what used to be sharp rock surfaces, crevices, and large slabs have been transformed into a thick coating of zebra mussels and black looked like a waste land on the bottom.  It's been this way for a couple of seasons now and has it had an affect on the fishing, I really can't say.  All I know is we trolled past sundown with nothing to show for it.  I headed to Lakeside Reef thinking that the fish may have moved in closer to shore with the same success.  Lakeside Reef is actually pretty nice, has the right depths and is a constant producer of fish.  Maybe it's one of those days!  Either way Guido had a great time as it was his first time on Mille Lacs.  I reminded him that's why we call it fishing instead of catching, he laughed.  Trolling shad raps and rouges we probed from 4 - 12 feet and not even a rock bass.  We did get a few nice pictures of the sunset and it was a great time learning about Guido's country, Costa Rica, as he has offered to return the favor and take me fishing down there.  As you can see he was pretty bundled up so a trip south about March might be perfect!

This weekend my good friend Mark Applen's daughter, Jackie is getting married.  She asked if my wife and I would take her wedding pictures, something we have done in the past for others.  We are happy to do this as we will generally take about 700 - 800 photos then sort through them, coming up with about 500 good ones.  When we used film I'd simply give the exposed canisters to the bride and offer my thanks.  Today's digital camera's record everything, which requires them to be adjusted via Photo-shop or some other program.  It's a lot nicer but does take a bit more work.  I am sure Mark will reward me by going ice fishing later this year, maybe back to Lake of the Woods.  Time is running out as deer hunting is now only 2 weeks away.  This weekend might be the last warm one until next April so I might be a fool and head back to Mille Lacs Sunday night but I will check the reports first.  Bill and I also keep looking for a time to go trout fishing, maybe that will happen next week, we'll see!  My Ferguson tractor project is going well, I called the guy working on it and he has the engine back together and I expect it back soon.  I am very anxious to see how she runs.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hunting Success

Ben's 350 pound Northern Wisconsin black bear
 Dealing with Ron's passing and the abrupt change in temperature and wind put any fishing on hold for the last couple of weeks.  What's been interesting is the amount of hunting stories my friends have sent me in the last week, each one was impressive.  Because Ben sent this in first, I'll start with him.  Ben is my good friend Kevin Aiona's son.   Knowing him from birth, at the time he was the youngest person ever to set foot in my boat.  I remember when we were fishing the spring walleyes below the dam in Alma Wisconsin, Ben was about 3 years old and I had just gotten my 1985 Lund Pro Angler, complete with an actual functioning live well.  Having caught a number of fish, Ben had to go to the bathroom.  Rather than disrupt the entire trip, we opened the live well cover and continued fishing.  Today I still laugh about it as the Mississippi River wasn't much cleaner!  Ben has turned into quite a fisherman, hunter, and today owns Aiona Heating and Air Conditioning, a well respected company servicing the Eleva area.  I am sure he's finding that owning a business sometimes leaves little time to do those things that you enjoy however he has managed to get away now and then.  Having a bear tag in Wisconsin means work.  With the hunt-able population over an hour north of Eleva, one has to have contacts to help bait your stand as bears are almost impossible to hunt without.  Wisconsin also allows the use of dogs to hunt bear and if you are lucky enough to know someone, it can be quite successful.  Apparently Ben wasn't able to get anything to his bait but did get hooked up with a group that had dogs.  After tracking a nice one, Ben got the opportunity to bag this huge 350 pound black bear.  Every year someone might get one over 400 pounds but the average in Wisconsin for all bear taken is about 180 pounds.  He is having a shoulder mount done and I am excited to see it when he gets it back.  With duck hunting in full swing, archery deer approaching it's peak, you can be assured Ben will be in the field somewhere.

Big Dave's Wyoming 6 x 6 Elk Bull

Next is my good friend Big Dave Pedersen.  Also from Eleva,  he and his wife Mindy own Pac Basic, a packaging company in Eau Claire.  Like Ben, I have known Dave for a long time, his dad was Pastor Pete, who presided over Eleva Lutheran Church.  Dave is another great outdoorsman and is quite the fisherman and hunter.  One of my best Mille Lacs fall trip was with Dave, we left work one weekday afternoon in September and within a couple of hours casting Rattlin Rouges must have caught 15 walleyes including a couple over 28 inches. Dave often travels to Idaho with his friends to archery hunt elk with my uncle Jerry.  This year Big Dave did a fully guided trip into the Wind River area of Wyoming with 5 other guys.  After driving 18 hours the guides loaded up the horses, all 27 of them for the 8 1/2 hour trek 24 miles back into the high country.  There they would set up camp, hunting daily in the surrounding area.  Dave shot this magnificent 6 x 6 bull a couple of days into the hunt, a trophy for sure.  Once it was packed back to camp he spent the rest of the time helping others as well as fishing the mountain streams that were full of large rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout.  He claims that the fishing was excellent, worth going back just for that.  The total tally was 5 bull elk with the 6th guy passing on a nice one, looking for something bigger.  Dave has the cape and horns in storage, debating whether to do a full shoulder mount or a European style mount.  I think he should do the full mount!  Nice job Big Dave!

Brett's "goat"
 The third trophy comes from my friend Brett Jelkin, who is also an engineer in our Loveland Colorado facility.  Brett loves hunting as well as competitive shooting and probably puts more 10 times more lead through a barrel in a year than most of us do in a lifetime.  An avid deer hunter, Brett hunts both Colorado and in his home state of South Dakota, he also tries to get an elk every chance he gets.  To get a Pronghorn tag in Colorado is a waiting game.  You need to apply, accumulate preference points, hoping that one day you'll be one that is chosen.  This year was Brett's opportunity as it would be only the second tag in 14 years and as he would say......a goat tag for the Pawnee Grasslands, northeast of his home in Windsor, Colorado.  Brett took me prairie dog shooting in that area one year, something I had never done.  My longest kill measured 346 yards with his modified 243 caliber rifle.  It's an interesting place covered with scrub cactus and sagebrush.  Posting on a fence corner near a windmill and water tank it took about 45 minutes for this buck to show up.  Antelope are quite wary and he bagged this one as it was trotting away from him, a 165 yard clean shot.  Brett is probably the best shooter I know and will not take a shot unless he is 100% confident.  Of course it paid off with a nice 14.5" base to tip, 9" inside tip to tip, and 15" at the widest spread, maybe he doesn't think it's huge but I'm impressed!  He has promised me some antelope steaks and I'm going to hold him to it.

The weather is predicting the first real rain we have had since the first of August.  They are saying over an inch, we'll see but we sure need it.  Everything is popcorn dry and I am getting concerned about the amount of soil moisture for the tree's, assuring their survival over the winter.  The garden is hard as a rock and I doubt it would be much fun rototilling it.  My tractor is being fixed and hopefully it will be available before the ground freezes, I'd like to try the disc out on the garden.  The next 2 weekends are full with weddings and celebrations as I have volunteered to take pictures.  Hopefully I can squeeze a trip to Mille Lacs in there somewhere.  The water temperature should be perfect!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Loss for Words

2012 Team Walleye Captain, Ron Edberg
Over the 4 plus years of writing this blog I have lost a number of people that meant a lot to me, were close to me, and I miss each one of them dearly.  Uncle Keith, Brother-in-Law Mike, my dear friends Russ and Tom Emmons, my father.  With each one comes an explanation, I might not like it but I understand.  Uncle Keith and dad simply ran out of time, Mike contracted kidney cancer and fought a brave battle.  Russ had a weak heart (that's debatable), and my dear friend Tom Emmons could not shake a dead end depression.  Even my friend Dewey's loss of his friend Al who died in a tragic auto accident, one can rationalize as we know the risks associated with our lives.  We don't like it and we might ask why, yet we accept the circumstances as painful as it may be.  My friend Ron Edberg defies acceptance.  As my flight from Chicago landed I turned on the cell phone only to have it ring almost immediately.  It was my wife, "There's been a shooting and 394 is closed."  Assuring I don't go that way I dropped off Dwight and headed for home.  The radio news was full of speculation yet I was only paying attention to the high level.  Once home and unpacked I checked the Internet for the story when it hit me.  The shooting was at Accent Signage, 5 people were fatally shot, this is where Ron worked.  Checking the current pictures, police tape spanned across a black Ford pickup to the UPS truck parked at the dock.  The truck was Ron's.  Immediately calling Ron's cell, no one answered.  The next number was our friend Mark Mayerich, Ron's closest friend who had been monitoring the situation.  No, I haven't been able to reach him however knowing Ron, he's helping out.........yes, this sounded like Ron.  Neither of us wanted to admit the uneasy feeling we both had.  At 1:30 that night Mark called and confirmed the worst, Ron was one of those that didn't make it.  How do you understand when a employee after 14 years of employment, became despondent, put his employer in a no win situation, then decide to make it right by killing those that tried to help him.  I did not know the shooter, the excuse of mental illness is probably right, who on earth would resort to such a senseless and destructive outcome.  I have no answers.

My 23 years with Team Walleye, Ron's legacy
 Ron Edberg graced my life in the early 1980's while deer hunting with my friends Mark and Jack Taylor.  Mark was part of a ragtag group of friends including Ron Edberg, his cousin Gary Ullon, and brother-in-law Mark Mayerich.  Meeting in Skime Minnesota on opening deer hunting, I was initiated to the group via the ungrounded refrigerator that I opened while barefoot on a concrete floor!  Man, that hurt yet began our relationship that continued to last week.  The main focus of Ron and my relationship was through our annual Leech Lake Fishing Opener deemed Team Walleye.  This was Ron's masterpiece as he was an accomplished artist and graphic designer.  Along with working in the sign industry he was a genius at creating logo's, theme pieces, and everything associated with our annual trip.  During the mid 1980's I fished Mille Lacs on the Minnesota Fishing Opener yet by 1989 my friends from Wisconsin had all but abandoned me.  When Mark Taylor asked me to join them I jumped at the chance and have never missed since.  Getting to know Ron better meant being more involved with planning the big event every year.  Starting with the beer duty, I progressed to the minnow man securing the bait for the weekend, eventually being the Tournament Director planning the rules, prizes, and working with Ron on a number of things that needed to be done.  Ron worked all year on this as we all enjoyed the organization he brought to our group.  From magnetic signs, bumper stickers, certificates, log books for keeping track of fish, menu's, sleeping arrangements, it was all possible because of him.   Mark Mayerich and Ron started the DCS (Didn't Catch $hit) award a few years ago using an old clear toilet seat which had lures embedded into the plastic.  Unfortunately Ron was the first recipient of the now prestigious award and along with our Big Fish Trophy, his name will be forever etched in the nameplates.  Ron was always grateful to be part of what he loved.

Classic Ron!

We closed the final chapter in Ron Edberg's life on Tuesday night, over 500 people stopped by the funeral home including the Mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Ryback.  It was especially gracious for the family of Reuven Rahamim, whom was the owner of Accent Sign and also one of the 5 victims, to attend the service.  They had taken the time from their grieving process to show support and for most of us, an opportunity to meet the people on the other side of Ron's life.  He truly enjoyed his work and it was evident that they felt he was part of their family.  We will keep Team Walleye going, it will be our 40th year on Leech Lake without our leader.  There are big shoes to fill, expectations that will not be met, yet life goes on.  Life's is not about yesterday rather about the present.  At our industry meeting this spring a speaker talked about who we are.  It's not what people think and say about you after you are gone, it's what they think and say while your here.  There's comfort in knowing that all of his friends have expressed to Ron exactly what we still say today and forever, your a good man Ron Edberg!  If you are interested click on Kare 11 and check out the piece they did with Mark Mayerich and I as they were looking for something about Ron and his life and friends.  Also click on Minnesota Bound and watch the first segment of episode 622, it pretty well says it all.  I guess the only thing left to say is that we will miss you dearly and we will always love you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

“When the Gales of November Came Early”


Steve's 22 inch walleye
 Gordon Lightfoot’s song, The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald, has a line which comes close to describing the conditions of last weekend’s fishing adventure.  As stated in previous posts this was the big event my brother Steve arranged, having me showcase the famous Mille Lacs September bite and showcase I did.  My guests were all from the La Crosse, Wisconsin area and represented an interesting mix of successful business men to my nephew Kevin.   The plan was to leave at noon on Friday, head to the lake and fish the late afternoon/evening bite before checking into our rooms at the Grand Casino.   I was paired with Steve Contrell and Steve Dolezel, the key players with my brother Steve’s new company he works for, Authenticom.  Their business is quite interesting as they deal in information, a hot item these days.   Our first stop was Bill's of course, we needed licenses, bait, a few hot lures, and a couple of lead line rigs for trolling.  The wind was already coming out of the west northwest at 15 to 20 mph when we arrived at the landing just north of the casino, I could see the whitecaps a mile out from shore.   Hoping the wind would settle down for the late afternoon we headed to Sherman's for some deep water trolling.  You could see patches of rain to the northwest of us yet it seemed as though it would leave us alone for a while.  After about 2 hours of trolling the flag finally went down on the port side planar board.  5 minutes later we had a nice 25 inch walleye.  Further trolling the deep produced nothing but water over the bow as we struggled to maintain a pattern close to the edge.  With sunset heading our way I decided to move in towards Indian Point and fish the shallower reef that runs straight out from the point a 1/4 mile or so.   With the wind blowing in to the reef, the chances of the shallow water bite producing were good.  Being on the front end of a cold front was the negative.  Out with the Shad Raps we immediately caught 2 smallmouth bass, 14 inches long, dang things.  Just as we reached the end of a reef a fat 21 inch walleye hit my crayfish colored #5 shad rap.  It was 7:30 and looking west towards the landing didn't look so good we decided to call it a night, 10 minutes too late.  Half way to the landing we hit the front with all it's fury.  The rain simply stung ones cheeks as we worked our way to the launch, the wind must have been over 40 mph.  We arrived at the landing soaked, loaded the boat, checked into hotel ready for dinner.  A great steak, a good nights sleep and we would be ready for the morning.

Steve with a deep water smallie

Saturday was a new day however the wind decided to repeat Friday's performance.  Adding to the experience was a morning air temperature of 35 degrees, we decided to launch out of the Red Door Resort with the plan to stay out of the wind as much as possible.  One of our boats was piloted by Victor and only had a depth finder on board.  I decided to fish the Resort Flat where they could drift along the top of the flat with jigs and Lindy Rigs while we trolled around in the deep.  Having seen a boat land a fish in the deep water we figured the fish might be there.  Even being sheltered from the wind, it was still strong as we struggled to stay in a steady pattern.  The flag went down on the board and Steve reeled in a nice 22 inch walleye which he is holding in the first picture.  After another hour of fighting the waves we moved inshore to a fish the water around a deep rock pile.  The waves were much more tolerable however with the wind it was still pretty cool.  We nailed another walleye and a surprise smallmouth in 24 feet of water on the lead line, a total surprise.  Having enough fun for the day we loaded up and headed for the Blue Goose to warm up.   Admittedly I wasn't prepared for the cold and even with flannel lined jeans and heavy shirts I got pretty chilled.  Of course my guests were most important and I let them dictate the time to leave.  Maybe we all simply figured out that it didn't pay to be stubborn.  You know it's cold when you find pleasure in holding the fish because it is warmer that your hands!  Waking up to 28 degrees Sunday morning we decided it best to simply head south.   I had a great time fishing with the Steve's, they really hung in there and I certainly took advantage of their business experiences.  Maybe we can get them back up next June for a better chance to catch fish without a constant shiver.

Getting home earlier than expected my next task was to haul my tractor down to Hudson, WI and have the rear engine seal repaired.  I met my friend Dwight Jordan who offered to accompany me to the mechanic he recommended earlier.  We dropped the tractor off, returned the trailer to my cousin Greg's, and made my way my brother-in-laws to watch the finish of the NASCAR race and whatever football game was on.  Monday was a depressing evening as I watch my beloved Packers lose on one of the worse calls in NFL history.  Just returning from Chicago, I am looking at what the weekend will bring.  For sure Saturday will be spent at the annual neighborhood Pig Roast where we have a 230# hog ready for the smoker.   I have some big minnows left from the weekend and I would really like to find some time to get out on the river.  We'll see.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scouting For This Weekend

Tom's 27 3/4" Walleye on an X-Rap
 My brother Steve is one of my best friends.  About 45 years ago our Dad would have begged to differ as we had our share of scuffles growing up together.  I remember one incident in particular, as we were pushing each other around on the stairs he took a swing at me.  That day I was faster than him and when I ducked his fist continued all the way through the sheet rock.  I knew we were in trouble, however it was apparent that he would take the brunt of it, I mean really, it was his fist that put the hole in the wall.  The years have added civility to our relationship as we have been to Alaska together, ice fishing at Lake of the Woods, is a seasoned member of Team Walleye, and the occasional trip to Mille Lacs.  Steve has recently changed jobs and the company owners love to fish.  When the subject of Mille Lacs came up he said that his brother Dave fishes it all the time, which evolved into let's go and this weekend it's show time!  Steve, his son Kevin, and 6 others are meeting me on Friday as we try to put some fish in the boat. September can be an interesting time of year to fish Mille Lacs.  My strategies have changed through the years as long line and lead line trolling have become an important technique to catching walleyes.  The walleyes have been hit pretty hard this year as well, things have changed regarding fish location in September and October.  It was a given that starting about the first of August the big fish would move back on the reefs to take advantage of the forage found there.  My only mounted walleye came off 3 mile reef on August 12, 1988 in 5 feet of water, right at dusk.  There were years where I could show up on a reef, cast shallow running lures like Rouges or Husky Jerks and catch 10 - 15 walleyes in that half hour before sunset to dark time period with a few in that 28 inch class.  The last 4 - 5 years this pattern has definitely changed.  Myself and a few others who have taken advantage of this now

My First walleye of the night
 rare bite believe that the recent change in smallmouth regulations which only allow one fish over 21 inches have affected the shallow negatively (for walleyes).  We theorize that the smallmouth populations have exploded and have taken over the shallow rock reefs making it almost impossible for a walleye to find anything to eat there.  Certainly there has been a movement to deeper water and maybe it was already there, we just didn't know.  All I can say is things have changed.  So in light of my task, neighbor Tom Olson and I went up Saturday afternoon to do some pre fishing.  Launching out of Cove Bay, the plan was to fish the deep water for a few hours, hit the shallow rock points before settling into that "potential" shallow water crankbait bite at dusk.  Well the deep trolling simply burned gasoline and the shallow rock point proved little to build my confidence.  On to Anderson's Reef where I have had success before but it's been hit or miss.  Tom likes to cast for muskies so he casted a large #13 jointed X-Rap while I pitched for walleyes.  About the time I lamented the lack of fish on the reef a dandy 27  3/4 inch walleye grabbed his muskie lure.  Not that walleyes don't hit large baits but it is a good example of "big fish eat big baits". 

19 inch walleye on a #5 Hot Steel Shad Rap
 With the sun setting we changed to long line trolling shad raps and rouges at the edge of the reef.  I have a milk run that goes from the south tip of Anderson's, up along the west side and over to a little known hump and back.  Much of this water is 10 feet and word was that this depth was putting out fish.  My favorite color shad rap has been Hot Steel as it's been a great lure both for shallow water and deep lead lining.  15 minutes into the troll I hooked my first walleye, about 13 inches and came out of the 10 feet depth.  My next fish was a 12 inch smallmouth and was followed up with a 14 inch smallie.  As a side comment, I'd love to keep a few of them.  Smallmouth bass out of Mille Lacs are as good deep fried as any walleye can be.  Swinging around the hump something more substantial hit the lure and we landed this 19 inch walleye, interesting..............maybe the reef bite might materialize this year.   In the next 30 minutes I got another smallmouth and an 18 inch walleye before darkness settled in and the bite went dead.  After a half hour of trolling with nothing to show it was time to head in.  We ended the night with 4 walleyes including the nice 27 3/4 incher, 4 smallies, not bad for a short time fishing.  It goes back to what I had stated earlier, often the bite this time of year is in that last 2 hours of fishing and it was no different this time.  This is why I am never much in a hurry to leave for Mille Lacs in September.   A comment on the drive back to Cove Landing.  There is a very shallow rock reef that lies across the entrance to Cove Bay.  In recent years it has been marked with red and green navigational buoys however I have it marked in detail on my GPS as they will eventually remove the buoys for the winterbefore open water fishing ends.  At night I simply follow my route with out incident.  For some reason this year they decided to add additional buoys and extend them out further from the reef.  The route I have on the GPS now has a red buoy smack in the middle of my marked entrance.  It's a reminder that you can never trust the exact placement of the buoys on Mille Lacs and if I had remembered my spotlight, things would have been better.  I didn't hit it thank God!!

I look forward to fishing this weekend however the wind cast has both Friday and Saturday at 20 mph from the Northwest.  It will definitely change our strategy of where to fish and of course help cool the water down.  The surface temp was still 68 on Saturday but I expect it to have dropped under 60.  With air temps in the 50's predicted, its interesting when the water is warmer than the air.  We are due for our first frost soon and it should put an end to canning tomatoes, finally!  In Chicago next week for the exciting Coil Winding Show as I have a reservation with a good supplier at Gibson's Steak House on Wednesday.  It's quite an experience if you haven't been there.